Gutierrez: 'insufficient number of Democrats' to pass immigration reform

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) admitted Thursday that “there are an insufficient number of Democrats” to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.

But he said he holds out hope it will happen anyway.

At a press conference to tout that 102 lawmakers have signed onto his reform measure, Gutierrez exclaimed that they don’t have the votes yet but are closer than he would have expected.

“There are an insufficient number of Democratic votes to pass this in the Senate or in the House. I’ve said it. There are an insufficient number. We are 102 strong, we are 102 commitment, but we are insufficient,” Gutierrez said.

He still believes there is time to make it happen, though, but not until September, after the Senate deals with the Supreme Court confirmation of Elena Kagan.

“Things have improved. We are making movement within the Senate. The community groups are advocating and organizing and we see the new energy, precisely because of Arizona and the urgency,” of Arizona’s controversial new immigration laws, Gutierrez explained.

The passionate Chicago-area crusader for immigration reform noted that Speaker Pelosi told his caucus that the House won’t move on the hot-button issue until the Senate acts.

Gutierrez commended Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for engaging in an serious effort to move the controversial piece of legislation through the Senate in short order.

“I know that the majority leader has been very, very good. He’s been meeting with other trying to find a vehicle to move this forward in the Senate. He’s made a commitment to do that, and I believe he’s doing everything he can to keep that commitment,” Gutierrez said, adding that “it doesn’t make it easy when people like” GOP Senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) ditch the effort.

Both GOP senators have insisted that implementing comprehensive immigration reform remain contingent on securing America’s borders.